A diet limited to sardines might sound somewhat too restrictive. It is.
Even the most ardent health food fanatics don't go that far. As much as I love the health benefits and taste of sardines, I almost never eat more than two cans of sardines a day. Even Keri Glassman, who wrote The Sardine Diet, is using hyperbole to make her points.
Her points are that sardines are not only delicious but also have unique properties that help us lose weight and improve our health. Food doesn't come any better than that.
Keri is president of A Nutritious Life, a nutrition counseling and consulting practice in New York City. Her practice focuses on weight loss/maintenance, pediatric nutrition, lifestyle/wellness/beauty, pre/post natal nutrition, cardiovascular health, and sports performance. A registered nurse and Certified Dietitian Nutritionist, Keri is the Nutrition Contributor to the CBS Early Show as well as a tri-athlete.
In 2006 Downtown Bookworks published The Sardine Diet: Lose Weight, Fight Disease, and Stay Healthy for Life. I just obtained one of the last available copies of this 128-page paperback (unless you are willing to pay $195 for a used copy) and have studied it carefully. I also interviewed Keri by phone at her New York practice.
Calling it The Sardine Diet is a great attention getter. Punningly, she admits in the book that it is "really a 'fishy' name for a high-fiber, reduced calorie diet that's high in omega-3 fatty acids."
The sardine diet involves eating a wide variety of foods. "Sardines simply make it easy to follow, even on a hectic schedule."
That's because sardines are the best combination of healthy and convenience food. Keri notes that they are so popular for desktop lunches because all you need to do it flip open the lid.
For me they are my favorite trail food. I take two cans of sardines and a spoon on every long hike.
Sardines come in a variety of flavors, including mustard sauce, tomato sauce, salsa, and pesto. The purest form comes packed in spring water, but I prefer the taste of those packed in organic olive oil.
I almost always eat my sardines straight out of the can. But lots of people add a splash of lemon (or the more convenient TrueLemon), a slice of sweet onion, or a dollop of mustard or mayo or miso. They are a great addition to salads too.
The term "sardine" is surprisingly vague. The Food and Agriculture Organization and World Health Organization say that canners can call any of 21 species as sardines. Usually, however, the are pilchards, a small fish related to herrings, or sprats, such as brislings.
Keri prefers a brand of brislings and I prefer a brand of pilchards. But, "the best sardines are your personal preference," she told me.
The brand that she recommends in her book is King Oscar. These brisling sardines "are good because of the cold, clear Nordic water they come from," she says. These mild sardines are available in many supermarkets, including Safeway.